Darley Newman moved back to New York in Dec. 2018 and when the pandemic hit and she couldn’t travel, she used the time to explore the city. “During the pandemic, all I could really do was walk or bike around Manhattan and Brooklyn,” she said. “I’m reading the historic placards and Googling.”
Once the international borders opened, the Upper West Sider was able to film the 10th season of her series “Travels with Darley,” which took her to places like Türkiye, Quebec, Santa Fe, Bordeaux and Wilmington, Delaware. Highlights include an interview with George R.R. Martin, the author of “Game of Thrones,” who helped purchase the historic Santa Fe Southern Railroad, turning it into Sky Railway, which offers themed adventure experiences to riders.
Growing up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the adventure-seeking TV host first caught the travel bug in high school when a friend’s family invited her to join them on a European cruise. “After that trip,” she said, “I was like, ‘I need to see the world.’” The 43-year-old has certainly done that. She’s on the road a week or two a month and has been to 38 countries in her over a decade and a half of travel.
Her new season of “Travels with Darley” premieres in January and besides learning about areas they’ve maybe never been, Newman said she hopes viewers will be inspired from the “everyday, remarkable” people she spoke to on her travels. Their common message was always, “take advantage of the time you have,” and lessons such as that, Newman said, are “why I think it can be so enlightening to travel.”
How did “Travels with Darley” come about?
I have been doing shows at PBS for over a decade because I started this other show, “Equitrekking,” where I went horseback riding around the world. I did that for a number of years and really got to go to so many different places. I’ve ridden horses in Georgia and went to Botswana, Africa. I went to South America and rode with gauchos in Uruguay. That show was kind of similar in that in every location I was meeting locals and going out with them, which is what I think is the best thing you could do in life in general. I had done 35 episodes of that series and I was like, “I think I’m gonna try to branch out,” because I was starting with that series to do a lot more general adventure as well. I did surfing in Donegal, Ireland and snowmobiling on a glacier in Iceland, all these adventurous things.
So I thought of “Travels with Darley” for an idea for a show. And the beauty of this series is I’ve been able to, over the years, not only go to places like Wyoming and really get off the beaten path into nature, but also go to cities and do L.A. and get an urban vibe in West Hollywood. It’s so diverse, but I think that people want to have different experiences, so that’s what I try to highlight through the series.
Your first show on PBS, “Equitrekking,” which was the world’s first travel show on horseback, went on to earn three Daytime Emmy Awards. How did you start that?
I started a website and my own blog back in the day where I was writing about horseback riding in different places. I started riding when I was a kid at summer camps and it’s one of my passions. And I was like, “I really want to travel. How can I make this into a profession?” I was trying to think of a travel show that I could do. I knew, at the time, no one would really hire me to host anything. It’s so hard to get into. So I was like, “What kind of travel could I do that no one else is doing?” People thought it was a crazy idea. They were like, “Who’s gonna wanna watch that?” And I was like, “You don’t understand. There are horses all over the world,” because people would ask me, “How do you fly with your horse?”
Where is someplace that you still want to go?
That’s a good question, actually. I haven’t been to Thailand yet. I did Cambodia, but I haven’t gone to Thailand and that is definitely on my list. For some reason, I really want to go to Nepal. I think it would be fascinating. I’ve been to Hong Kong and Macau, but I haven’t been to Shanghai or gone really into China and I think it would be enlightening for people.
What was the best meal you’ve had on your travels? I read you had said it was in Belgium. Is that still the case?
I think so. It’s probably still Belgium, L’air du temps. Sang-Hoon Degeimbre is his name. He’s Korean, born and raised in Belgium and his restaurant is amazing. And it’s interesting because I don’t think things have to be a work of art, but it’s very nice when they look beautiful too. His food is so creative and inventive, but also really tasty. We went out to his garden and he was picking stuff up. I’m a big meat eater and I love meat and cheese, but he did a lot of vegetarian stuff and things that were just with fresh vegetables.
You also jumped off the world’s highest commercial bungee.
It’s at the Macau Tower. Yeah, I don’t know why I did that, but that was actually after I’d first moved to New York, so maybe I was just feeling adventurous in general. It’s definitely something you have to mentally prepare for. I was on the fence about doing it and I didn’t decide until I got there. Because I heard so many people tell me things that could happen to me and they weren’t all true. The adrenaline that was pumping through me after that was insane. I’ve never felt anything like that and I’ve done a lot of adventurous stuff, but that was intense.
What are some of the most breathtaking parts of nature you’ve gotten to see on your trips?
I love the American West. I think we have some of the most beautiful places in the world here in the U.S.A. In Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is really stunning and different. I was able to go in springtime and ride horses. Antelope Island’s very cool, outside of Salt Lake City. Wyoming as a state is definitely a place that’s underrated. I went down to the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, which is definitely a bit off the beaten path. It’s beautiful scenery and the Jackson Hole area is gorgeous with the Tetons. But I just went to Cappadocia [in Türkiye] for a second time. And that’s a really cool area. It seemed to me a little bit like the American West. It has different rock formations as well, but just really amazing history there too with caves that were built during Byzantine times and a lot of neat archeology. I like places that have beautiful scenery but some depth and a story behind it.
What can viewers expect from this season and what were some of the highlights during filming?
I’m really excited about this season because if you like to travel or if you don’t, you can garner a lot from it. Because the people I was able to meet, and this is not unusual because there’s so many interesting people out there, but the people are really inspiring. This cowboy who grew up with Georgia O’Keeffe at Ghost Ranch. We’re out there in these expansive landscapes where they filmed a lot of different movies. And I asked him what he’d learned from growing up in this area and living there and knowing O’Keeffe. He talked about how short life is and that things go by in an instant. And as I meet more and more people that’s what I keep getting from people.